BREAKING: Court declares ex-Bank PHB boss, Atuche, others free

By Editor on 22/06/2015

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon

Views: 848


A Lagos High Court in Ikeja has struck out a N25.7 billion criminal charge brought against Francis Atuche, a former Managing Director of the now defunct Bank PHB.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had instituted a 27-count charge including stealing and conspiracy against Mr. Atuche; his wife, Elizabeth; and the bank’s Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu.

In his ruling, Judge Lateef Lawal-Akapo said the EFCC failed to prove that the defendants stole money from the bank.

Atuche was set free alongside his wife, Elizabeth, and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu. The three persons were prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion from the bank.

Giving his verdict in the case on Monday, Justice Lawal-Akapo held that the court was duty bound to comply with the decisions of Court of Appeal in the cases of former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Okey Nwosu and former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola.

The judge stated that though the prosecution, in its submission, was right to say that counts one to 10 of the charges were anchored on stealing which falls within the purview of the jurisdiction of the State High Court, he noted that the prosecution did not make any submission on whether counts 11 to 27 have any nexus with shares and stocks.

“The case, in all, falls with Nwosu’s case. Counts one to 10 are within the ambit of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State because they deal with stealing. Counsel to the commission did not make any submission on whether counts 11 to 27 have any nexus with shares and stocks. The criminal charge is hereby struck out and the accused persons are hereby discharged, “the judge ruled.

It would be recalled that the EFCC had asked the court to adjourn indefinitely its ruling on an application filed by Atuche, seeking to quash the theft charges preferred against him. In the application dated April 2, 2015 and filed by its counsel, Dele Adesina (SAN), the commission urged the court to adjourn the ruling, pending the outcome of its appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment of November 21, 2013 at the Supreme Court. The appellate court had in the judgment struck out the theft charges preferred against Nwosu and others for lack of jurisdiction.

Justice Lawal-Akapo dismissed EFCC’s application in the Atuche’s case, claiming that he aligned with the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on Elizabeth Atuche’s case, saying “the court must opt for accelerated hearing.” The judge said if he should adjourn the matter sine-dine, his decision will be antagonistic to the ruling of the Court of Appeal.

“The emphasis in this case should not be based on speculation but should be based on accelerated hearing in compliance with the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on Elizabeth Atuche’s appeal. Supposed this court rules sine-dine, the decision will be antagonistic to the decision of the Court of Appeal. I find no merit in this application and the application is hereby dismissed,” the judge ruled.

Atuche, in an application, had asked the court to quash the charge against him, arguing that like Nwosu’s case, the State High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Counsel to the defendants, Sylvia Ogwemoh (SAN) and Tayo Oyetibo, had, in the pending application, asked the court to quash the charge citing the Court of Appeal judgment of November 21, 2013. They had maintained that the cases were similar because they emanated from capital market transactions.

They argued that the charges against Atuche bordered on issues which derived from capital market transactions, on which, they said, only a Federal High Court could adjudicate.

The counsel drew the attention of the court to the decision of the Court of Appeal, which, on November 21, 2014, struck out the theft charges levelled against Nwosu and others. “The appellate court held that such capital market-based matter was an exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.”

They also referred the court to the December 31, 2014 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, in the case of Akingbola against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The appellate court struck out the case against Akingbola on the same grounds.

Justice Lawal-Akapo had on March 2 fixed a date for ruling on Atuche’s application but could not deliver the ruling after Adesina informed the court of the EFCC’s pending application. Adesina said the EFCC had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, adding that the matter was being granted expeditious hearing due to its importance.

But Justice Lawal-Akapo noted that the judicial practice directive is to give priority to high-profile matters. He said nobody could predict the time the Supreme Court would arrive at its verdict in the said appeal. He noted that the lower court had waited for over two years for the apex court to clarify the ruling given by the Court of Appeal on the Nwosu’s case.

Atuche’s lawyer therefore asked the court to reject the application, arguing that it was aimed at truncating the ruling.




Posted on June, 22 2015

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon

You may also like...
185 suspects languishing in Warri prison

Alleged Husband killer: Court jails wife of ex-PDP...

Official: Nigerian top League kicks off March 7...

BREAKING: Again, Herdsmen invade Soyinka's home

We won’t fight ECOWAS soldiers, this is a...

Renewed attacks in S’Africa: Police kill another Nigerian,...

Abia Guber: Ikpeazu declared winner

BREAKING: More judicial blow as Supreme Court flattens...

Buhari's Botched visit to Ogoniland: Presidency fumes, schools...
Latest News Renewed attacks in S’Africa: Police kill another Nigerian, mob raze down four shops Why Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named new baby Chicago George Weah stars, scores in testimonial match ahead Liberia Presidential handover Ex-Barcelona coach positioned to replace Conte at Chelsea Australia Open: Sharapova crashes, Djokovic, Federer move on Police IG sends ex-Lagos CP to Benue as plans to end Herdsmen killings unfolds 'Ailing' Pele collapses, rushed to hospital Herdsmen invasion: Benue People still living in fear, torment, Orthom cries out TRAGEDY: After inhaling poisonous gas, 12 UNIOSUN students collapse in class *Rushed to hospital BREAKING: Salisu pitches tent with Falaye, Okpotu, Ezenwa, eight others as CHAN Eagles battle Libya


Most Read BREAKING: Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar clinch final Ballon d'Or shortlist, Suarez snubbed (36,096 views) You must release Kanu, give us justice or we keep bombing – Gen. Ben (23,517 views) Seven 'killer' SARS officers arrested in Anambra for murder (21,367 views) I must redeem Ndigbo or die trying – Nwodo *We're quite uncomfortable in Nigeria (20,534 views) Biafra: I’ll lead negotiation with agitators – Okorie *Warns against force (13,625 views) Okorie to Buhari: Your gvt can’t be killing Ndigbo and offering B’Haram amnesty (12,737 views) BREAKING: Again DSS shuns court order, hedges on Kanu's release (11,748 views) BREAKING: Upset, as Ugwuanyi appoints Queen of 419 into cabinet (10,426 views) Biafra: S’East governors, Ohanaeze to meet Buhari over Kanu (9,672 views) Catholic bishops to Mbaka: Your prophesies could be brain wave (9,609 views)


News Appointments (133) Business (239) Crime (632) Economy (410) Education (155) Entertainment (84) Fashion and Style (5) General (245) Health (264) Inside Africa (194) Interviews (14) National (629) Politics (1831) Press Releases (3) Religion (119) Security (972) Sports (1746) Technology (19) World News (380)


CBN banner advert

Chelsea Outdoor

Veleta banner

FRSC Officials vs Woman Driver on highway



Newsletters Subscribe to Whirl Wind News newsletters today and get breaking news and updates delivered to your mailbox!

Sign up